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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

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Excerpts from the Crimean Debate in the House
of Commons, February 27 — March 1, 1945*
Mr- Greenwood (Labour, Leader of the Opposition) : I do not think
that the Big Three ought to determine the fate of the smaller nations which
do not possess either our economic resources or our military power. The
value of a nation to human life, culture and civilisation is not measured
by its size, it is measured by its quality, and I hope that in dealing with
liberated Europe that will be borne in mind. I agree that what is far
more important, (than the territorial problem) is the preservation of a free,
independent, sovereign Poland in the fullest sense of the term. As I have
said, it is not the size of the body, it is the quality of the body that matters,
and that is so in the case of Poland. ... I would point out to the House,
that it is foreign to the principles of British justice., that the fate of a nation
should be decided in its absence and behind its back. I do not regard the
territorial problem as vital, but the other problem is vital—that there
should be in the East of Europe the living beacon of Poland free and indepen-
dent, as a warning note to any future aggressive Germany. I do not hold any
brief for the Polish Government. I do not think it has been too well treated
by His Majesty's Government. ... I say it really is a cardinal sin for three
Great Powers—one of whom has an interest which we have not got—
in the absence of the people, whose lives are being bartered away, to deter-
mine the future of any country.
The Prime Minister: The whole object is to create a Polish
Government which can, unitedly, decide upon the future.
Mr. Greenwood : I think we all want a united Polish Government
which can decide upon the future but, as regards the territorial issue,
the Poles have been allowed to say very little about how their coat is to be
cut. The fact is that before a decision of this kind is taken, I really do feel
that the Poles—all the Poles—might have been consulted in the matter.
If I were to enter into the realms of controversy on this issue, I would say
that an authority has been given to the Polish end of the Polish Government,
rather than to the Government which has hitherto been recognised by this
country and is still recognised. However, it is perfectly clear . . . that there
must be a provisional Government, national in character, representative
of all organised political movements, to prepare for the future of the Polish
people. (Hon. Members : " All ? ") Yes, all reorganised political move-
ments, and I include the Communists in that. . . . Then, when we get
free and unfettered elections, the people can decide for themselves. It is
a pity that in these initial arrangements, both the Lublin Government and the
Government here were not properly consulted.
The Prime Minister : They are being consulted now.* It was not
possible to invite a Polish Government to Yalta, because one of the Great
* The Polish Government was never in fact consulted.